South Korea’s smallest mobile operator LG Telecom (LGT) is preparing to submit the specifications for its planned rollout of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Revision A services to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) for approval. LGT hopes to begin testing EV-DO Rev. A in the 1700MHz band before the end of the year, with a view to launching the service commercially in Seoul in the first half of 2007. The cellco urgently needs to rollout 3G services if its is to compete with its larger rivals, SK Telecom and KTF Corp, which both offer higher speed services using EV-DO and W-CDMA/HSDPA technology. EV-DO Rev. A is marketed as an equivalent so-called 3.5G technology to HSDPA, offering download speeds of up to 3.1Mbps.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, LGT failed to win a W-CDMA concession in the auction of December 2000, but was awarded an 3G IMT-2000 (CDMA2000 1x technology) licence as recompense in August the following year. It launched 1x services in the 1700MHz October 2000, but failed to utilise its 3G frequencies and had its IMT-2000 concession cancelled in July 2006. LGT had originally planned to roll out a CDMA2000 1x upgrade known as EV-DV in 2005, offering faster data speeds than EV-DO at up to 3.1Mbps downlink/1.8Mbps uplink. It began testing EV-DV technology in June 2004, but after a number of high profile operators elsewhere in the world threw their weight behind EV-DO, it put its KRW500 billion EV-DV rollout plans on hold indefinitely. In November 2005 the operator became one of the first worldwide to reveal plans to use its IMT-2000 spectrum to launch EV-DO Rev. A, a so-called 3.5G technology, which it said it was aiming to offer by mid-2006. However, in May 2006 it said it would not meet the self imposed deadline and in July it confirmed that whilst it continues to explore the possibilities of launching 3.5G services, it would concentrate on utilising its 1700MHz network to do so. Because it was the second time that LGT had postponed its 3G launch the MIC was permitted to withdraw its IMT-2000 spectrum under law, and it did so later in the month.